Artist: Laura Marling
Title: “I Speak Because I Can”
Format: Digital (Spotify)
Laura Marling won For Those About to Rock’s 2011 album of the year for “A Creature I Don’t Know,” a folk revivalist campaign that bettered the work of even her ex-boyfriend, Mumford and Sons’ namesake Marcus Mumford.
What continues to be most impressive about Marling is her age, now 23. She has a grasp of her craft that exceeds songwriters three times her age. She has a confidence that defies her years.
With “I Speak Because I Can,” it becomes clear that Marling has sharpened these skills with each successive release. Things are tighter and more direct on “Creature” than here, but that’s no knock on what is on display.
Most of “Speak” is moody and acoustic with light accompanying touches such as horns or strings. “Blackberry Stone” and “What He Wrote” have quiet, confessional tones to counter rockers such as “Devil’s Spoke” or “Goodbye England.” Only “Darkness Descends” really doesn’t fit.
Some idiosyncrasies work in her favor. On “Hope in the Air,” she drops horribly into her British yawp, unable to hide her accent as she rhymes “wah-tur” and “dawgh-ter.” It’s charming.
“Speak,” like Marling’s other work, is worth appreciating and revisiting.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.